On The Human Side Of Moore’s Law

For those of you not familiar with the notion of Moore’s Law, its describes technology improving at an exponential rate. These improvements have been the driving forces behind computers, cell phones and anything else that uses at chip. With people, as well, we have begun to adopt and compound our use of technology at an alarming rate too. These changes are, as Robert X. Cringely says, about to change everything. I tend to agree with his thesis. I have seen these changes already.

Technology is harder to adapt to for the older people. I remember my own father working in a news radio station typing away at a typewriter, hammering at the keys. He, and others, would be making these loud sounds with the keys merely because the die connected to the key lever had to hit a ribbon of ink, then hit the paper and make a letter. When his workplace and home were transformed into computer keyboards, he still hit the keyboards with much of the same force, likely destroying a few of them in the process. At the time, I was beginning my own path in computers, and never had used a typewriter – a keyboard was not something I had trouble picking up (though not well, I might add). The rapid changing and re-learning of generations has really brought rise to this generational categorization.

I am actually in a very good place in terms of generations. I’m somewhere smack in the middle of X and Y and have been able to benefit from knowing the older X generation (late 30s to mid 40s) and the younger Y generation (mid 20s to early 30s). The changes we have already seen have been affecting the way we are all categorized. It often used to be about your experience or your certifications but this new notion has really started to creep up about whether your Y or X gen. You don’t agree? Listen in on a high-level executive’s lunchtime chatter – you’ll hear these references fly around constantly.

But, its not just just this generational change (and possible discrimination) that is really about to revolutionize things. It is, as Robert X. Cringely says,”that we’re moving from a knowledge economy to a search economy”. As the generations are becoming more comfortable with new technologies and as they take on more information faster, we are all moving from being experts to being experts in finding. This is a huge shift for us in how we think of learning in the first place. Haven’t we always expected kids to work out the math problem instead of using a calculator?

Kids were doing this when I was in school, they are doing it more now to. My young Niece Cara can do the math problems, she can do them well and fast – but she has become most accustomed to using a calculator to solve these problems because this technology has become clearly integrated into her life. We don’t allow it because of the possible shock, but it seems possible her future would include millions of math problems that she would have no time for solving each one of them – she would not use a calculator as a crutch – this would be an essential tool for her.

I do think we are at a point of being forced to embrace technology where it will really hurt us – in the classrooms. We are going to need to allow the kids to use computers, to chat with each other, to plagiarize other’s work, to gloss over the things we thought were important – teach them how to learn, and now, teach them how to find.